In January 2012, the Australian Insitute of Health and Welfare released the latest data on Child Protection – Child Protection Australia 2010–11 . The following is the summary of this information as it relates to Aboriginal &Torres Strait Islander children, young people and their families.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Population Statistics
In 2011, the Australia Bureau of Statistics estimated that there were 70,936 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children and young people aged 0–17 years in Queensland. This represented 6.5% of the Queensland population aged under 18. This included 40,471children aged 0–9 years and 30,465 young people aged 10–17 years.
Child Protection Statistics
Across Australia, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children were almost eight times as likely to be the subject of substantiations as non-Indigenous children (rates of 34.6 and 4.5 per 1,000 children, respectively). In Queensland, they were 6.2 times more likely (rates of 24.6 and 3.9 per 1,000 children, respectively). (AIHW table 2.4)
Types of Abuse
A breakdown of the notification data into the primary presenting form of abuse and comparison to the total Queensland and Australian data demonstrate some basic differences which can enhance understanding of possible reasons for the over-representation of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system. This data needs to be treated with some caution however, as most cases will include elements of multiple forms of abuse and choosing one type of abuse as the primary presenting form may oversimplify the discussion.
|Type of Abuse||Qld ATSI||Qld Total||Aust ATSI||Aust Total|
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children in Queensland are more likely to present to the Department of Communities (Child Safety) because of emotional abuse and neglect and less likely because of sexual and physical abuse. This is a change in trend from previous years when neglect and physical abuse had been the leading abuse types.
Emotional abuse is the most common type of abuse identified in the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population, and is also the most common in the overall population. The greatest difference between the two populations is neglect where the rate is much higher for the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population. Neglect is linked in a number of ways to overall levels of disadvantage. Child abuse and neglect does not exist on its own but is rather a symptom of the stress and pressures on families, from individual, family and community sources.
The rate of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children who become the subject of protective orders has continued to be significantly greater than for children from the general Queensland population.
In 2011, there were 3,181 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children subject to a protective order out of 8,456 in the general population. This represents a level of over-representation of 37.6%. The rate of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children on care and protection orders in Australia was 9.5 times the rate of non-Indigenous children (rates of 51.4 and 5.4 per 1,000 children, respectively). In Queensland, this figure was slightly lower at 8.7 times. (AIHW Table 3.4)
An increase in the rate of children from the general population being placed on protective orders over the past ten years (from 4.0 per 1,000 children as of 30 June 2000 to 7.7 per 1,000 as of 30 June 2011 – an increase of 190%) has not matched the greater increase in the rate of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children being made subject to these orders (from 15.1 per 1,000 children as of 30 June 2000 to 44 .8 per 1,000 as of 30 June 2011 – an increase of 296 %). On the 30 June 2011, the Queensland rate for all children of 7.7 per 1,000 children on protective orders was slightly higher than the national rate at 7.6. (AIHW Table 3.4)
Out of Home Care
Of the 37,648 Australian children in Out of Home Care, 12, 358 were Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander. This represented 33% of the total population. In Queensland these figures were 7,602 and 2,850 respectively with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children representing 37.5% of the Out of Home Care population although only 6.5% of the general population. The rate of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children in Out of Home Care was 10 times the rate of non-Indigenous children in Australia and 8.7 times in Queensland. (AIHW Table 4.4)
Child Placement Principle
Adherence to the Child Placement Principle continues to decrease with compliance rates at 52.5%. This means that in Queensland, of the 2,850 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children in Out of Home Care, 1,355 children are not placed with their family or community.(AIHW Table A1.2)
* AIHW 2012. Child Protection Australia 2010–11. Child welfare series no. 53. Cat. no. CWS 41. Canberra: AIHW
Updated March 2012